Sunday 28 September 2014

Old Dogs, New Tricks, So Throw Me A Frickin' (Reaper) Bone Here

I'll be honest, I'm the kind of painter who pretty much plays it safe where technique is concerned.

I tend to paint in a very straightforward style, lots of emphasis on layering rather than blending (acrylics always dry too quickly for me to get a proper handle on that particular method), and I don't tend to move outside my comfort zone.

Until now.

I've seen some of the work being done around the place by talented painters who have mastered the Non-Metallic Metal (NMM) technique, and it looks brilliant. I am filled with admiration for those individuals who, as if by some sort of alchemy, can transmute grey paint into silver. or browns and tans into gold.

For a while now, I've been telling myself that I'd never do anything as cool as that, ever. But then I thought, "well, if you never try, you'll never know one way or the other." So I grabbed a Reaper Bones Battleguard Golem at my local gaming emporium, figuring that it was

a) a figure with enough metallic surfaces to practice NMM on,

b) sufficiently detailed to make it interesting, and

c) cheap, so if I screw up, no harm done.

The figure is a nice sculpt, and puts me in mind of the old D&D Eberron setting's Warforged PC race. A bit different to working with metal, resin, or hard plastic though, as the softer plastic from which it is cast poses some challenges when trying to get rid of mould lines; it certainly doesn't lend itself to being filed. On the plus side, if any part of the figure is bent out of shape, it can easily be repositioned if you quickly dip the affected area in very hot water and then run it under the cold tap once you're happy with the new look. To give you an idea, my own figure was armed with a wickedly sharp banana until I went to work with the kettle - he's now wielding a straight sword again.

Deciding to go for a 'steel' finish, I undercoated in black, I mixed equal parts Citadel Abaddon Black with the old paint range's Shadow Grey, and applied it as the base layer. I gave it a wash of Badab Black ink and waited for it to dry completely before going on to the next stage.

Adding more Shadow Grey to the base coat mix, I worked it up through progressively lighter layers and began adding small quantities of Space Wolves Grey, which was used on its own to provide edge highlights to the individual armour plates.

Here's the result so far;

"Blue(ish) Steel!"
Of course, he IS a work in progress...

I'd like to be able to give him a few glints of light on the most salient points of his armour, but I'll need to study the fall of light more closely to determine the best course of action from here. and that there magicky-lookin' sword will need something REAL special. Ye Gods, will this figure see another first for Ev, namely Object Source Lighting...?

I'll just have to keep going and see where this takes me!.

Stay tuned...


Saturday 27 September 2014

ECW Cavalry Skirmish at Scratchy Knob

Today I played out the third battle in our ongoing long-distance ECW campaign using Victory Without Quarter. You can download the scenario for Scratchy Knob here. This one was an all cavalry encounter between two roughly balanced forces. Parliament were outnumbered by one squadron but had one more trained squadron to compensate. If either commander could drive his opponent from the field by night they would be the victor.

The Parliamentary commander (Adam) instructed his horse to hold a line between the heavily wooded Srcatchy Knob and the copse across the road. He determined to let the Royalists come on in their usual fashion and counter charge when the opportunity presented itself. The Royalist commander (yours truly) elected for a frontal charge with 2/3 of his force and a small flanking manoeuvre with two squadrons.

Initial dispositions, Royalists on the left, Parliament on the right

Due to the vagaries of the card activation system the Royalist charge was fragmentary and less effective than it might have been. The low quality nature of troops on both sides however meant that counter-charges were few and far between.

Royalists advance

Royalists begin to charge home while Parliament do nothing?

My initial expectation that Raw horse would favour poorly vs. Trained horse was only somewhat correct. Being caught at the halt is a far greater crime. The greatest crime of all however is failing to save hits in combat!

In the thick of it!

As both Adam and I predicted this quickly descended into a slogging match. Initial early gains by the Royalists were overturned by some lucky dice rolling by Parliament. Even the arrival of the Royalist flanking force did little to effect the balance.

Flank charges galore but to little effect

A long, slow grind until night falls

The combat see-sawed back and forth with neither side able to establish a winning majority on any one part of the field. Eventually Parliament lost 3 of their 6 squadrons (all raw) and the Royalists 2 (all trained) but the quality of respective losses kept things even.

As darkness fell the Royalists clearly had the upper hand as you can see in the last photo, but the Parliament commander was able to scurry away with his tail between his legs as night closed in.
A draw then, but who would be the more happy to report the outcome to headquarters?

Once again Victory Without Quarter proved to be a robust, fast system with plenty of period flavour.
I think I will add a negative for being flank charged to make combat a little more direct. I was surprised there wasn't one in the rules to begin with to be honest. Only a minor quibble and I love the rules overall.

Stay tuned for the next instalment...


Sunday 21 September 2014

It's all a bit of a mess really...

Apologies for the gap in posts. I do generally try to keep up a good flow so followers get their money's worth so to speak. Anyway, by way of explanation...

The last few weeks have been pretty crap at Chez Mills, the one just gone being an especially unpleasant one. I'm currently battling a few dental issues which stem in part from illness as a child and also basically just some rotten luck. That's leaving me grumpy, unfocused and out of sorts generally, coming as it did on the back of a really good dose of man flu. One more week should see me over this batch of unpleasant procedures.

You can add to that the loss of my best little mate Shankly the Cat, whose health took a very sudden turn for the worse and necessitated a very painful decision last Monday. I'm absolutely gutted to say the least and missing my late night painting and TV companion terribly. Here he is making good use of my arm as a pillow, a favourite tactic which prevented me from doing anything but sit still (aka exactly what Shanks wanted to do).

Shanks was in many ways very much like his namesake Bill, former manager and Liverpool FC legend. He was strong willed, dedicated to seeing he plans carried out and not afraid to express himself. For all that he was very sociable, happy to tag along wherever I went and willing to put up with almost anything that didn't infringe on his right to use people as furniture. To sum him up, just like his namesake "he made the people happy". I hope he's found somewhere quiet for an extended kip until I catch him up and normal service can be resumed.

All of this has led to an absolute lack of focus. I've done a million different things, almost all badly. This is the result, the paint table from hell...

Anyway, enough feeling sorry for myself. Normal service is very soon to be resumed I promise.

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